Eileen and I , Santiago Airport

All I Ever Needed

All I Ever Wanted

“If the world is too tall
You can jump you won’t fall
You’re in safe hands
What the day will now give
How those seeds will now live
It’s in your hands”

  • Albarn

Apparently there are real men.

Strong silent types, who wrestle bears, know DIY, would have made county only the selector was turned down by their mother for a slow set in the Hillgrove 20 years ago, can fix their own cars, know what to do with everything in the gym, can jive, genuinely love Garth Brooks, dive rather than jump into water, shave…everywhere, and can watch the bit in Jungle Book when Mowgli thinks Baloo is dead without bawling their eyes out.

I’m not one of those.


I wear my heart on my sleeve.

I know what love is because I lost it.

That’s how I truly know that love is real, because I had it  and then I lost it. When I say ‘lost it’ I mean I didn’t fully appreciate it and went off to do something else, the Holy Ghost Fathers, and then when I realised I wanted it back the other part was missing. When I say ‘missing’ I mean that my Soulmate , having had her heart broken wasn’t terribly keen to risk her heart with me again in case my next noble quest/ hare brained idea took me away.
So I spent what seemed like forever roaming around the Hillgrove on a Saturday night not asking anyone to dance because they weren’t her and taking really, really deep intakes of breath whenever the DJ played George Michael’s  ‘Careless Whisper’ , and he seemed to play it ALL the fucking time…on purpose. Even now I have to skip it forward or throw something at the radio if it comes on. I still find it soul destroyingly sad, not because of the song itself, more the memories it evokes.
Shane McGowan wrote ‘A Pair Of Brown Eyes’ especially for me. He must have, because how could  he write about lost love like that unless he knew me.
And even U2 wrote their one, single , truly emotional song about me, ‘Tomorrow’ , from the B side of October. Yes, technically , they wrote it three years before I first went out with my Soulmate, and yes, technically, it’s a tad evangelical, but when I heard it during my wilderness years they were clearly singing of my anguish.
The only thing worse than having Shane, George and Bono singing about what was lost was catching a glimpse of her. That moment of elation and then devastation.
A few million years of loneliness later, 2 years, we were saved by Depeche Mode. We went to see them in Dublin together and … here we are.
So having found, lost and been saved by the greatest love of my life, what do I do on a daily basis ?
Why, take it for granted of course !
I don’t mean to. But I do. But then you hear a song, or someone says something and … you don’t take it for granted anymore.

P.S. Depeche Mode

P.P.S My first published piece :

I knew her as…….

The vigil mass was almost over and Fr. Stephen, home for the first time in 15 years from Brazil, stared at the folded note beside the microphone. Before the final blessing there were just the parish announcements and any breaking news that hadn’t made it in time for the printed bulletin to be read. He’d only had a few minutes before the mass started and the short duration of the mass to steel himself for the one line in the announcements that had shaken him to his core when he’d been handed it that evening by Pat, the sacristan.
He took a deep breath.
“Next Sunday’s eleven o’clock mass will be a special one for this year’s First Holy Communion class. It will be just two weeks since they made it.”
Many smiling faces greeted him as he looked up.
Deep breath.
“Your prayers are asked for Mrs. McGuinness of Glaslough Street who passed away this morning after a long illness. Removal on Monday evening at seven pm followed by the funeral at eleven a.m on Tuesday.”
He took another deep breath. Hold fast.
“Your prayers are also asked for Katherine Lyle, formerly of Park Street, who passed away in Dublin today. Many of you would have known……….” he stared at the note. He could see her face, her smile. He smiled. The congregation shuffled it’s feet, someone coughed. He began again.
“Your prayers are asked for Katherine Lyle, formerly of Park Street, who passed away in Dublin today. I would have known her as Katy Cunningham.”
He started to say the final blessing, realised that there was a tremor in his voice, coughed loudly and started again, determined.
“In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost…..sorry, old habits…….Holy Spirt, Amen. You are free to go, to love and serve the Lord.”
The congregation got to their feet as the choir, in wonderfully Irish Catholic fashion, gave a half-hearted and slightly embarrassed rendition of Ave Maria. He waited in front of the altar flanked by the two servers with his back to the congregation until they’d finished the first verse, genuflected and made his way to the sacristy.
Pat, the sacristan, was waiting and looking anxious for his old friend.
“Jesus Stephen, I’m so sorry. I didn’t realise. My God, I feel so stupid.” He looked for some sign from his friend.
“It’s OK Pat, I didn’t realise myself until…….” he broke down. He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t carry on as if everything was normal. A wave of grief overcame him now and he collapsed into Pat’s arms and wept. Pat back heeled the door of the sacristy firmly shut. There would be a small queue of parishioners forming to make arrangements for future month’s minds, anniversaries or simply to ask for a special intention. It couldn’t be avoided. He knew his old friend needed a moment.
It only took ten minutes to hear everyone’s requests and then it was just the two of them. Pat was busy tidying things away and getting everything ready for the morning mass.
“I’m just going to take a minute to myself” Stephen called over his shoulder as he went back into the empty church. He sat in the middle and started to pray for Katy. As he prayed, memories flooded back. They were seventeen and walking through Rossmore Park , hand in hand, the air bristling with energy, electricity, expectation and excitement.  She had always known, even before they had started going out together that he had planned to join the priesthood, but still, he remembered with sadness another day, the day he told her that he was still committed to it. Neither of them had realised just how deeply in love they were, they readily accepted the opinions of others that it was infatuation, puppy love and that it would pass. It was the only thing that got them through that first year apart, but they were wrong, it never passed, certainly not for him. He hoped it had for her.
In his first year in the Holy Ghost Fathers they had written to each other, as friends, but there was more said in what was not written in each one. He looked forward to them but always felt sad when he’d finished reading them. His mother’s letters sometimes filled in some of the blanks. Katy had dropped out of school and started working. Mum said that she had got the impression that it made Katy sad if she stopped to talk to her, that maybe it reminded her of him somehow.
By the second year the letters became monthly and in his third year he went on the missions for eighteen months and the letters stopped. When he came home from his first stint on the missions as a student priest he asked his Mum if there was any news of Katy. She told him that she was in London and apparently doing well. Through his friend Pat he managed to find that she worked as a hairdresser in Knightsbridge. He was only home for three weeks but he managed to make an excuse to visit a friend in the Holy Ghost Fathers in Bromley and he went to Knightsbridge. He stood across the street looking at the shop, she walked up to the reception at the front and he almost burst with joy. All of the feeling came rushing back. It was nearly closing time and he rushed down the street to a florists he’d passed on his way there and bought a single red rose.  He rushed back up the street and saw her leaving the shop, his heart was pounding in his chest, he was about to call out when……….when he saw that another was waiting to meet her. They jumped into each other’s’ arms and kissed. He turned away and walked back down the street, he was devastated and empty.
He sat in a nearby church that day too and resolved to let her be happy, he had no right to interfere, to risk her happiness on a whim of his. He would not ask after her again. But he would say a prayer for her and her partner every day.
“Stephen! Stephen!” Pat roused him from his thoughts and prayers. “What is it Pat?” he answered grumpily.
“There’s someone on the phone for you” he answered. “Take a message, please Pat.”
“It’s John Lyle, Katy’s husband, he rang asking if we would know how to get in touch with you, he couldn’t believe it when I said that you were here.”
Stephen took the call. “Mr. Lyle I am truly sorry for your loss, Katy was a dear, dear friend of mine when we were young.”
“I know Father, Katy spoke of you often, she never forgot you. I can’t believe I’ve reached you on the first call, I was dreading having to track you down somewhere in South America. Please call me John.”
“And you, please call me Stephen. How can I help you, John?”
“I know it’s a huge imposition but Katy was ill for a while and we all got to make peace with her passing before she died. She wanted her funeral to be a celebration and her last wish was that you would conduct the funeral”.
Stephen was taken aback, a tear rolled down his cheek as he said “I’d be honoured John, I’ll get directions and I’ll be there tonight.
Pat drove him to Dublin immediately. He walked up the driveway, John Lyle opened the door and gave him a warm hug then he stood to one side as a fine young man approached from the kitchen.
“Father, this is my eldest son. Katy and I called him Stephen.”

Author: paul

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